Thursday, August 27, 2009

How's your 401(k)?

St. Louis Post-Dispatch blogger David Nicklaus says Lee's 401(k) plan ranks below average.

BrightScope, which provides ratings on 401(k) plans, gives it a 46 out of 100. Cox, McClatchy, Gannett and Belo rank higher; Freedom Communications is lower.

20 more laid off from Suburban Journals of St. Louis

At least 20 newsroom employees were laid off Wednesday at the Suburban Journals of St. Louis. That's in addition to the 28 employees who were laid off last week. The 16-edition paper has also eliminated six editions.

(Via e-mails)

Saturday, August 22, 2009

46 laid off in St. Louis

Eighteen employees were laid off at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and 28 were laid off at the Suburban Journals of St. Louis on Friday.

The Post-Dispatch laid off 14 full-time and four part-time employees. The memo from publisher Kevin Mowbray follows:
“While we remain hopeful that the worst of this economic recession is behind us, we found it necessary to reduce our work force today,” said St. Louis Post-Dispatch Publisher Kevin Mowbray. “However, even with these reductions we continue to be the largest news gathering operation in the St. Louis metropolitan area with over 1.3 million St. Louis adults reading the Post-Dispatch or visiting each week.”

The work force reduction included 14 full time positions and 4 part time positions: 2 from Operations, 12 from Advertising, and 4 from newsroom (news researchers and a photo assistant).

The managing editor and deputy managing editor for features recently announced their resignations from the Post-Dispatch.

Mowbray also is trying to sell his house, but said he is staying at the Post-Dispatch.

The Suburban Journals laid two off sales directors, outbound recruitment and its Jefferson County, Mo., staff.

(Via e-mails)

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Monday, August 17, 2009

New editor at Quad-City Times

The Quad-City Times in Davenport, Iowa, has promoted Jan Touney from managing editor to executive editor. The Times story gives no indication of what happened to editor Steve Thomas.

Touney has been managing editor since 2003, and has worked for Lee for 29 years.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Fremont publisher adds Columbus Telegram to roster

Fremont (Neb.) Tribune publisher Bill Vobejda has been named named a regional publisher, replacing Bob Blackman at the Columbus (Neb.) Telegraph. Blackman announced his resignation last week.

Vobejda has been publisher the Tribune's publisher for the past four years; before that, he was the marketing director at the Lincoln Journal Star.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Columbus Telegraph publisher resigns

Columbus (Neb.) Telegram publisher Bob Blackman announced his resignation Monday. Blackman, 61, has been at the paper for five years; he previously was the publisher of the Beatrice (Neb.) Daily Sun. Blackman said he will take some time to "decompress" before deciding what he will do next.

Blackman's replacement is expected to be announced tomorrow. Longview (Wash.) Daily News publisher Linda Lindus announced last week that she was leaving that paper; a replacement has not yet been announced.

Madison papers announce buyouts, merge departments

The Wisconsin State Journal and The Capital Times are cutting 15 positions. Buyouts have been offered; if there are not enough takers, layoffs will follow.

The papers operate under a joint operating agreement: Lee owns the State Journal, and Capital Newspapers owns the Times. Their JOA is getting very close. The papers will now merge several newsroom departments: Features, sports, photography, multimedia, design and production. Only news and opinion remain separate, although breaking news coverage is already a joint operation.

(Via e-mail)

Who's buying Lee stock? Mary Junck

91 percent of you say now is not the time to buy Lee stock. CEO Mary Junck wasn't paying attention -- she bought 20,000 shares this week for about $2.22. Stock closed at $2.40 today, so that's already a $3,600 profit. Junck now owns 346,457 shares.

I extended the deadline on the "would you buy Lee stock" poll in the right column -- vote now.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Will you buy Lee stock?

Social Picks rates Lee stock a "buy." The stock closed at $1.65 on Friday; the current stock price is in the sidebar to the right.

So would you buy Lee stock now? Vote now in the poll to the right.

Post-Dispatch managing editor resigns

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch announced that managing editor Pam Maples has resigned; her last day will be Aug. 18. Editor Arnie Robbins said she will not be replaced. Maples has been at the paper for nearly three years.

In a note to the staff, Maples said she did not know what she would be doing, but she will be working on projects for the newspaper for the next few months. Robbins said one of those projects will be researching paid online models, which prompted some Post-Dispatch commenters to ask if the paper will be switching to a paid model. Although there is been a moderator's note on another comment, there has not yet been an answer to that question.

(Via e-mail)

Friday, August 7, 2009

Post-Dispatch reporter arrested at rally

St. Louis Post-Dispatch reporter Jake Wagman was arrested Thursday night while covering a town hall meeting at a middle school in Mehlville, Mo. Five others also were arrested during a demonstration outside the school. Wagman was shooting video at the time, and recorded his arrest. (The video is not embeddable.) He was released a few hours later; the county counselor will decide on charges for all six who were arrested.

Post-Dispatch editor Arnie Robbins issued a statement Friday:
"In arresting our reporter, we think the police overreacted and were over-zealous. While we understand that police have difficult jobs and were in a volatile situation, we hope they understand that reporters, too, have difficult jobs and were in a volatile situation."

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Lee, St. Louis Newspaper Guild continue negotiations

The St. Louis Newspaper Guild has posted an update on contract negotiations between Lee and guild members at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. The union says tentative agreements have been reached on grievance time limits and intern use.

The current contract expired in June. When negotiations started, Lee was asking for a 23 percent wage cut from union members.

Daily News publisher takes job in California

Former Longview Daily News publisher Linda Lindus has been named publisher two MediaNews Group newspapers in California, the Daily Breeze in Torrence and the Long Beach Press-Telegram in Long Beach. Her last day at the Daily News is Aug. 14.

Lindus joined Lee in 2000 as publisher of the Southern Illinoisan in Carbondale, Ill.

Montana papers refuse to run union ad

Five Lee papers in Montana refused to run an ad from the United Food and Commercial Workers. Ten other Montana papers ran the ad, which asked readers to call for insurance information. UFCW doesn't sell insurance; it does offer coverage to union members. (Lee has made its anti-union stance pretty well known. Last year it launched Lee Union Free.)

Billings Blog has more on the article that the Butte Weekly (which does not have a website) wrote about the incident, including a very short interview with the publisher of the Helena Independent-Record and Montana Standard.

(Via e-mail)

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

2 Lee papers 'do it right'

The Sioux City Journal in Sioux City, Iowa, and The Post-Star in Glens Falls, N.Y., are on Editor and Publisher's annual list of "10 That Do it Right."

The Sioux City Journal was included for giving readers something to talk about.

"When Editor Mitch Pugh arrived at the Lee Enterprises-owned Journal in 2007, he focused the 32-person newsroom on giving readers 'something to talk about' in the paper and online," the magazine reported.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Lee campaign to reverse 'irrational negativity' about newspapers

You've seen the "First. Best. Today. Tomorrow." logo, right? It's been around for awhile. There's a version on this year's "prayer card."

One of the things I ignored in CEO Mary Junck's letter to stockholders was her mention of the "First. Best. Today. Tomorrow." campaign. Junck said there is a "continuing, irrational negativity about the future of newspapers," and Lee is fighting back with the "First. Best. Today. Tomorrow." Junck said the company-wide campaign will be locally tailored.

There are actually stories out there about this:

Monday, August 3, 2009

A closer look at Form 8-K

Want a closer look at Lee's earnings report? Here's Form 8-K, which is required by the Securities and Exchange Commission. It includes a letter from CEO Mary Junck, who says the company's "streamlining of costs" is on track.

"Thanks in part to 22 percent reductions in the third quarter, we expect to reduce full-year 2009 cash costs, excluding unusual items, about 17 percent below 2008, a decrease of nearly $140 million. Among our many cost actions, we have completed page width reduction across the company, realigned staffing and consolidated or outsourced printing and distribution in several more locations."

Money spent on newsprint and ink has dropped -- 41.4 percent in the last fiscal quarter. Compensation is down 22.4 percent in the last quarter, and 18.3 percent from a year ago. Circulation is down 6.3 percent in the last quarter, and 4.9 percent from a year ago.

The letter also points out that the previously voted on and approved reverse stock split will not take place. (Which is one of those things that happened while this blog was on hiatus.)

You can also see Lee's other SEC filings.